Saturday, April 28, 2007

First UHF TV In Ohio

While we call this blog "Cleveland Classic Media". Our scope of interest is the entire NorthEast Ohio region..from Ashtabula to Sandusky to Wooster/Mansfield South to Dover/New Philadephia and of course, Akron, Canton and Youngstown. In the next few articles we will share a little about early UHF in Ohio, specifically the Youngstown market. As with most television markets, the first Television stations in Youngstown were operated by companies that already were established media players in the market..The Youngstown Vindicator/WFMJ Radio and Warren P. Williamson of WKBN Radio. I would like to use vintage Youngstown Vindicator articles to give an idea of how things were covered at the time.


Equipment Shipped for WFMJ and WKBN from Camden, N.J.

Transmitters for Youngstown Television Stations WFMJ and WKBN left Camden, NJ in moving vans at 6 o'clock Wednesday Afternoon and were expected to arrive in this city between 6 and 7 o'clock New Years Morning.

The transmitters were designed and manufactured by the Radio Corporation of America and are the first Ultra High Frequency transmitters to be shipped into Ohio. Each transmitter will deliver 1,000 watts of power. Each was designed specifically for the channel on which it is to broadcast. WKBN will be on Channel 27 and WFMJ on 73. Because of a device which steps up the power actually put into the transmitters, effective radiated power up to 26 kilowatts is produced. No transmitters proudcing more power (than 1,000 watts) have yet been manufactured. it is hoped that 10 Kilowatt transmitters will be available by the end of 1953. Both Youngstown stations have placed orders for them and will increase the territory they will cover as soon as they are delivered.

Some time will be required to install and test the transmitters. Network programs will not be received here until the American Telephone and Telegraph company completes its new substation in Southern Boulevard. This is not expected before Feb. 1.

Tower is Erected

In order to be on the air as soon as possible, WFMJ-TV has erected a 335-Foot tower at its site on Mabel St. opposite Bennett School. WFMJ placed an order for a 1000-foot tower with Truscon Steel Co. many months ago. Defense Orders have delayed completion of this, but it is expected to be completed in the Spring of 1953. The antenna of this tower will mark the highest point in Ohio.

Shipment of WFMJ's transmitter has come five years and one week after application for a television license was filed by the Vindicator, owner of WFMJ-TV. The application, which was the first to be filed by a Youngstown station, was forwarded to the Federal Communications Commission Dec. 26, 1947. The "freeze" resulting from the FCC's study of Color Television and the need of a new broadcasting band soon after that. Meanwhile, Youngstowners discovered they could bring in pictures from Cleveland and Pittsburgh, a fact which had not been forseen, as the stations on the first, or Very High Frequency were not expected to go out more than 40 miles.

Article from page one of the Youngstown Vindicator, Thursday, January 1, 1953.

A couple of comments..It seemed obvious even as early as 1947 that there would be problems with introducing television to the whole country. You would think the FCC would have done a lot more study before trying to launch a national tv service. Also..More study would have made the FCC realize that Cleveland or Pittsburgh VHF would hit Youngstown.

Thanks to the Youngstown/Mahoning County Public Library for their assistance. In subsequent articles, I will focus on the first on-air days of WKBN and WFMJ.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Browns re-sign with WKYC-Add Sportstime Ohio

It has just been announced that WKYC-TV 3 has signed a new agreement with the Cleveland Browns to do pre-season games for the next 3 seasons. The deal now includes a Cable deal with Sportstime Ohio. All Preseason games will be in HD with STO replays (Also in HD) within 24 hours of the live game..

Link to WKYC announcement:

Ohio Media Watch story

This could be a great deal, especially for STO, if the Browns get gives STO more credibility with fans and advertisers in my opinion.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Back to NBC-1965-1989

Even as Westinghouse set up shop in Cleveland in 1956 they were not happy about the circumstances behind the move, though to the company's credit they set out to create an outstanding, locally oriented television station in spite of everything..The FCC with a complaint by Westinghouse, undertook a 10-year investigation of the Sale/swap..It was found that NBC coerced Westinghouse into making the move, threatening to pull affiliations from other Westinghouse Owned NBC stations. The FCC ultimately ordered NBC to reverse the swap, while not realizing any profit from the move back. The swap was completed by June 1965..with the KYW call letters back in Philadelphia at channel 3 and AM 1060. NBC changed its call letters on channel 3, AM 1100 and FM 105.7 to WKYC. AM 1100 was known as a top 40 giant in Cleveland..moving to some news and talk in the early 1970's. AM 1100 and 105.7 were sold to Nick Mileti and Tom Embrescia in 1973..under the call letters WWWE-AM and WWWM-FM.
105.7 has since become WMJI with Majic Oldies..After many format changes...3WE settled into a News-Talk format..changing call letters back to WTAM in 1996.

As for WKYC-TV 3, while some of the long time employees stuck around, Mike Douglas moved to Philly to continue his talk show. There have been some bright spots concerning channel 3 from the 60's through the 80's, such as conversion to All-color programming in 1965: Award winning documentary show Montage and somewhat successful morning shows by Scott Newell and Dave Patterson. Also the long run of "Today In Cleveland" with Del Donahoo (whose long running Del's folks travel segment on the news was a hit) and Tom Haley. Wally Kinnan had a nice run of popularity as the weeknight weatherman. There was a perception among viewers, however that WKYC-TV 3 was not much more than a "Farm Team" for NBC..With popular folks like Weatherman Al Roker Newsman Bud Dancy and Dawn Stensland moving on to bigger positions in New York..(Stensland to CBS)
The Farm Team perception hurt ratings as for years WKYC was number 3 in news ratings..

NBC ultimately relinquished majority control of WKYC to Multimedia, Inc. in 1989..Multimedia merged with Gannett in 1995. A new downtown studio, coupled with the acquisition of Talk Show Dr. Phil, has improved the fortunes of WKYC in recent years.

Edit:Just became aware that Dawn Stensland currently is 10PM News anchor at WTXF-Channel 29 in Philadelphia

Saturday, November 18, 1967

6:25 News
6:30 Farm Front
7AM Popeye Theater
9AM Super 6
9:30 Super President
10AM Flintstones
10:30 Samson and Goliath
11AM Birdman
11:30 Atom Ant/Secret Squirrel
Noon Top Cat
12:30 Cool McCool
1PM Panorama-Hicks
1:30 Movie-Double Feature
I Want You-1951
The First Traveling Saleslady-1956
5PM Gadabout Gaddis-Fishing
5:30 GE College Bowl-Robert Earle
6PM Big Ralph-Teen Dance Show
6:30 Montage
7PM NBC News-Frank McGee
7:30 Maya
8:30 Get Smart
9PM NBC Saturday Night at the Movies-Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man-1962
Midnight News-Ron Becker
12:10 Weather-Hicks (anyone know a first name?)
12:15 Sports-Dick Hammer
12:20 Movie-Double Feature
The Tarnished Angels-1957
She Played with Fire-English 1958
3:55 News and Sign Off

Listing from Cleveland Edition TV Guide

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Channel 3's Westinghouse Years-Personalities

The KYW-3 years between 1956-65 represented some of the best years in Cleveland Television..When the talent came out and really established themselves as enduring broadcast personalities. Linn Sheldon..Had made a name for himself at TV 5 before this..His Character "Barnaby" was said to be among the most popular ever in Cleveland..From 1956-88 he WAS Barnaby on channel 3 and Later 43..Tom Haley..Had already been at WNBK since about the beginning and would be at channel 3 TV and radio an astonishing 49 years..till 1997 when he signed off "Today in Cleveland" with Del Donahoo. Sports Director Jim Graner from 1957-1974 when sadly he passed away from cancer. Clay Conroy (Woodrow The Woodsman) who started about 1961 as a sidekick to Barnaby, eventually landing his own show. He Did "Woodrow" for a few years in Detroit before landing back at WKYC in the early 70's. He revived the Character in an IGA-sponsored "Woodrow" revival from 1997-2000 at WJW-Fox 8..
Others include Dick Goddard..who was at channel 3 from 1961-65..He moved to Philadelphia with KYW but only stayed a few weeks..**He tells of trying to get hold of Wally Kinnan at first, as Kinnan didnt want to leave Philly..but they couldnt connect with each other. Goddard was homesick so he moved back to Cleveland at WJW-8 "Because they had the Browns"..and has been at Channel 8 ever since..Mike Douglas..who did the Mike Douglas Show from KYW in Cleveland at first before moving to Philly. It was the prototype for the modern "talk/entertainment" show..Douglas, until his death last year considered Cleveland "home"

KYW pioneered "Eyewitness News" which began in Spring 1959 with anchor Pete French..KYW used the name/format until June 1965..WEWS used "Eyewitness News" in the 70's and 80's..

KYW was very independent minded when it came to pre-empting NBC..For a time around 1959 or so Channel 5 ran Huntley-Brinkley..Channel 5 also took the Tonight Show from the late 1950's till sometime in 1965..(Note:while about all of channel 5's shows were black and white the tonight show was fed and shown in color..) 3 would have late night shows like Mike Wallace's PM East/PM West or Regis Philbin if they didnt have movies..

Below is The Thursday, Sept. 15, 1960 KYW-TV 3 schedule

6:25 Farm Fare
6:30 Summer Classroom
7AM Today-Garroway
9AM Funsville-Children
9:30 Life Of Riley
10AM Give N Take-Tom Haley/Quiz
10:25 Gal On The Go-Brown
10:30 Play Your Hunch-Merv Griffin (Live)
11AM Price Is Right-COLOR-Bill Cullen
11:30 Concentration-Hugh Downs
Noon Truth Or Consequences-Bob Barker
12:30 It Could Be You-COLOR-Bill Leyden
1PM Movie-Green Hell-1939-Big's Party Line Hosted by "Big" Wilson of KYW-1100
2:20 News-Pete French
2:30 Loretta Young
3PM Young Dr. Malone
3:30 From These Roots
4PM Thin Man
4:30 Barnaby, Popeye and Friends
5PM Movie-Dimples-1936 (Shirley Temple)
6:30 News-Bill Minshall
6:40 Weather-Big Wilson
6:45 Huntley-Brinkley
7PM Rescue 8
7:30 Laramie
8:30 (Four Star) Playhouse
9PM Thriller-DEBUT-Boris Karloff
10PM M-Squad
10:30 Ten-4-Broderick Crawford-(Highway Patrol Reruns?)
11PM News-Bill Minshall
11:10 Weather-Jim Gerard
11:15 Sports-Jim Graner
11:20 Movie-Mary Of Scotland-1936
1AM Movie- Before Dawn-1933

Listings from TV Guide Cleveland Edition..

**Dick Goddard Story from "Channel 3: 50 Golden Years." 50th anniversary program October 27, 1998

Channel 3's Westinghouse Years-1956-65

WNBK-TV 3 was established as a Solid NBC-Owned operation by the mid-1950's, but apparently NBC wanted out. They coveted an owned and operated station in Philadelphia, which would give them the 4th largest market as an O& give them a solid string of owned stations in New York, Philadelphia and Washington. NBC convinced Westinghouse-owned WPTZ-TV 3 to move their operation to Cleveland while WNBK took over the Westinghouse Philadelphia facility. Westinghouse had built WBZ-TV 4 in Boston as their first TV station in 1948, buying WPTZ-3 in 1952 from Philco. They bought KPIX-5 San Francisco from Associated Broadcasters and WDTV-2 in Pittsburgh. from DuMont in 1954. (Renamed KDKA-TV) The Sale of WDTV effectively put DuMont out of the TV Network business.

The whole NBC-Westinghouse transaction consisted of:

To Westinghouse:
Channel 3 Cleveland (Renamed KYW-TV)
AM 1100 (KYW Radio)
FM 105.7 (KYW-FM)
$3,000,000 dollars

Channel 3 Philadelphia (renamed WRCV)
AM 1060 (WRCV Radio)

The transaction was completed by early 1956. Monday February 13, 1956 WNBK's final broadcast was a 11:45 AM special program..sort of a "changing of the guard." KYW-3's first official telecast was the Tennessee Ernie Ford Show at noon. There was also a parade and balloons and fireworks in downtown Cleveland that night in celebration though behind the scenes Westinghouse was'nt happy as we will see later. The programming was much more locally centered with several personalities coming to the forefront during the Westinghouse years..

Edit: I had originally forgotten about WBZ-Tv 4 in Boston..Thanks to Joseph Gallant for correcting me...

Friday, April 13, 2007

NBC In Cleveland-Part 1-Formative years..

The following is an overview of NBC Radio and Television's History in Cleveland..WTAM Radio began Life in 1923, owned by Willard Storage Battery Company..Originally a share time station on 770 AM with WEAR (1924), the station began modestly, with 3 hours of programming a night. By 1928, the station had moved to 1070 khz and was 50,000 watts. eventually drawing the attention of NBC, which had been formed out of the RCA corporation in 1926. NBC purchased the Station in October, 1930. Programs originating from Cleveland included a Comedy program from Gene Carroll and Glenn Rowell..both of whom would later perform (sometimes opposite each other) In Cleveland TV. In a final move, WTAM moved to 1100 khz in 1941.

In October, 1948 WNBK-TV 4 began broadcasting with an evening schedule, later moving sign-on to 1PM and by early 1952, 7AM or before..WTAM-FM began in December, 1948 on 105.7 Mhz simulcasting the AM.

As part of a shakehout of a number of TV channels partly to reduce interference and partly to allow new stations..WNBK moved to Channel 3 in 1954..There were a number of well-known personalities on Channel 3 by this time, Including Glenn Rowell, Tom Haley, Tom Field and Ken Coleman..Below is a typical Schedule from WNBK-4 from Friday December 18, 1953

7AM Today
9AM Captain Glenn (Rowell)
9:25 Ohio Today-Tom Haley
9:30 Idea Shop-Mildred and Gloria
9:55 Ohio Today-Tom Haley
10AM Ding Dong School
10:30 Glamor School-Jack McCoy-NBC
11AM Hawkins Falls-Soap
11:15 Three Steps To Heaven-Soap
11:30 The Bennetts-Soap
11:45 Follow Your Heart-Soap
Noon-Bride And Groom
12:15 Haley's Daily
12:30 Maggi Byrne-Fashion
1PM Movie-To Be Announced
2:15 Joe Portaro-Beauty
2:30 Nancy Dixon-Shopping
2:45 Chef Lorenzo-Cooking
3PM Kate Smith
4PM Welcome Travelers-Tommy Bartlett-NBC
4:30 On Your Account
5PM Atom Squad-Kids
5:15 Gabby Hayes
5:30 Howdy Doody
6PM Suppertime Comics
6:30 Tom Manning Sports
6:40 Weather Factory-Glenn Rowell
6:45 Tom Field News-Would become much more identified with WEWS-5 by the 1960's.
7PM You Can Be Better-Talk
7:30 Eddie Fisher
7:45 Camel News Caravan-J. C. Swayze
8PM Dave Garroway
8:30 Life Of Riley
9PM Big Story
9:30 TV Soundstage
10PM Boxing(Gillette)
10:45 Greatest Fights-Boxing Film
11PM Tom Field News
11:05 Ken Coleman Sports
11:10 Joe Finan Weather
11:15 Movie-Sleep My Love.

This is part 1 of 4. Next I will focus on the Westinghouse years..which I consider the "Golden Years" of Local programming and community involvement on Channel 3.

The schedule above comes from TV Guide, Lake Erie Edition..WTAM-WNBK Info comes from Wikipedia

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Prime Time TV "Time Machine"

Some of you may be aware of the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago. They have a fascinating website with many Video clips/shows..Some historical interviews and roundtable discussions with TV and Radio veterans..They also house the Radio Hall of Fame.

As part of their video archive, they feature what they call.."Net Nights"..A retrospective series that focuses on full-evenings of television in Chicago..All 7 nights of full length programming as it might have been presented in Chicago on each network affiliate and WGN..
Includes Network/station promos. commercials and complete episodes of all shows presented..

Current Lineup:

Saturday Evening Fall 1959-60 WBBM (CBS) WBKB (ABC) WNBQ (NBC)

Sunday Evening Summer 1969-WLS (ABC) WMAQ (NBC) WBBM (CBS)

Monday Evening Fall 1963 WBKB (ABC) WBBM (CBS)

Tuesday Evening Fall 1961 WBKB (ABC)

Wednesday Evening Fall 1965 WBKB (ABC) WBBM (CBS) WMAQ (NBC)

Thursday Evening Summer 1955 WBKB (ABC) WBBM (CBS) WNBQ (NBC)

Friday Evening Fall 1964 WBKB (ABC) WBBM (CBS) WGN

Each night of programming is presented in 2-3 1/2 hours. I don't know if the above lineup is permanent or if they change up the shows once in awhile..Interesting "Time Warp" Kind of thing..

The link should take you to their the upper right "Net Nights" Link

Nice too is the fact that they have some shows that are rarely seen, such as "Farmer's Daughter" or "Valentine's Day"..Very different indeed

More Info on "Net Nights" with links to specific schedules of each "Net Night"

Friday, April 6, 2007

Best Wishes for a Blessed Easter.

Just wanted to check in a moment..Hoping that everyone has a blessed and Happy Easter Sunday..Been working a bit more this week..Havent really had a chance to do much with the Blog..I want to have something new up by Monday Night..Thanks for all the comments thus far..I do want to learn how to add more pictures and a little video as appropriate..Again..Have a safe and happy Holiday Weekend..

Monday, April 2, 2007

New Links..

You may notice that I have now added a link section..While most are broadcasting related I would like to give special mention to the two newest links, added this morning.

International Jack Benny Fan Club. (

Ms. Laura Leff is a longtime Benny fan..actually becoming a fan around the age of 10 through watching Benny reruns and his last TV specials..She now handles Legal rights issues (Use of broadcast material, etc.) for the Benny Estate..This site was put together as an obvious labor of love for one of the great comedians of any era.She has gotten to know many of those who worked with Benny and has a fan club newsletter and lending library of Benny Material on site..Highly recommended..

The Bill Cullen Homepage

An awesome site dedicated to one of the real gentlemen of TV History-Game show host Bill Cullen.. Fan Matt Ottinger has put together a great collection of Photos, sound clips and biographical material from Cullen's entire career..From Pittsburgh Radio in the early 1940's Through his last TV hosting job on the Syndicated Joker's Wild in 1986.

Ottinger himself is a rather busy fellow..Hosting a High-School Quiz Show at WKAR-TV 23, The PBS Outlet at East Lansing, Michigan, as well as being a founder of The Game Show Forums (also linked at the left). He also was one of the few who gave Ken Jennings a good game during Jennings' Jeopardy! 2004-05 winning streak. Bill Cullen was a favorite host of mine as well and if you are a fan of his or even game shows in general, this is an outstanding site..